Friday, February 28, 2014

one thing at a time

We are all so busy.  Hurry.  Hurry.  Hurry.  Life comes and goes so fast.  Multi-task.  Hurry.  Get more done with less.

When I was in Seminary one of the things that they told us is this: when life gets crazy, focus on one thing at a time.  So you have a sermon to preach for Sunday, a wedding to do on the Saturday night before, and now a funeral for Saturday morning.

They said, prepare a bit for all of them, but focus on the funeral the most.  First things first.  After it is over, spend all day on Saturday getting ready for the wedding.  After the wedding, your mind is free to make sure the sermon is done.  Don't let it get all mixed up in your head.

They were suggesting something that I have often found to be true......if you try to do everything at once, it can all get confused and messed up in your brain.  Focusing on one thing at a time is something that I have found to be helpful.  The other things can wait a bit for me to get to them.  They aren't going anywhere after all.

Slow down.  Work on the one important thing.  Then go on to the next.  It will be there when you arrive.  Take a breath and hear the birds sing.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


I miss my kids.  I had to tell someone.  I looked forward to being an empty nester, and now I miss them.  I blinked and they grew up.  I don't think I would turn back time.  Last time I checked, you can't.  But, sometimes, I miss them.  I miss talking to them and listening to them and hugging them and watching them.

I love them.  One is in Chicago, one in Orlando, and the third is here in town, but travels every week.

I am sure this is a stage that I need to adjust to.  I don't want to guilt them into moving back or coming over all the time, but I just miss them.  I think missing someone is a residual of love.  I am glad that they are not gone for good.  They are pretty special kids.

I thank God for the chance to miss someone or some thing or some time or some place.  It means that we loved them.  And in this life, to love someone or something is an amazing and wonderful gift.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


I have been thinking about this lately.  Someone said that the essence of spirituality is to wake up.

One can be a Christian, but be asleep.  One can believe the right things and do the right things that make you a Christian, yet be asleep.

When one wakes up in this life it is like something amazing has happened.  You see the day with a new joy.  You understand that every moment is a gift from God.  If you complain about something, you are later embarrassed because you know how wonderful life is.  You begin to see people as blessed children of God instead of annoyances.

To  wake up is to feel and know that God loves you.  It is to relish in the miracle of sight.  It is to find joy in the care of a friend.

Life is too good and too short for us to be satisfied with a whiny unhappy life filled with complaints about one thing or another.  When all the while we are surrounded by such wonder. 

Believing is good.  Believe in God.  Right.  But....... wake up and see the wonder, the amazing miraculous joyful good that God has brought to us.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

low maintenance

I mentioned this phrase in yesterday's post and it got me to thinking.

When a car has too many maintenance issues, we usually look for another.  We Americans want to enjoy a thing and not be dominated by taking care of a thing.

The same is often true of friendships.  Are you annoyed when people insist that you be their best friend?  Are you annoyed when they put the guilt on you because they have not seen you for a while? 

Low maintenance friends are the kind of people that you love, and they love you, but you still get to have a life.  They aren't upset if you have other friends.  They don't get their feelings hurt if you hang out with others.  They never complain about not seeing you.  You may go months without hanging out, but when you do, something amazing happens.  Grace shows up.  Joy is on the table.  You are just glad to be together.  You understand that they are busy and they understand the same about you.  You catch up and it is like you were never apart.

I think of such people so fondly and I value them so much.  I hope that you have some low maintenance friends.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, February 24, 2014

happy birthday

I was invited to a birthday party for a person.  I have known this person for many years.  We have been friends - what I like to call "low maintenance friends."  We have lunch a couple times a year.  We have never gone on vacations together, but I am always glad to see him and there is a kindred spirit between us.

I was sitting down to write on his birthday card and it occurred to me that he probably has no idea how much I really value him.  So instead of the customary "happy birthday from me," I wrote him a pretty long note.

I told him that I remembered the first time that we met.  I remember thinking, "what a cool guy."  I told him how much I valued him.  I told him that I wanted to take a moment to honor the kind of person that he is.

I think he will like the card.  I hope so.  But I got to thinking about how many other people there are in the world or in the church or in my family that don't know how I feel about them.  I am going to go on a campaign I think to start telling people how I feel about them.

I think you can bring a lot of joy to people when they find out how much you value them.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Forgive me for I have forgotten your name.  I try really hard, but my brain is full.  My brain is like an old computer.  There is way too much going on for me to remember everything.

You are valuable to me.  I want to know your name.  It takes me longer to learn names than it used to.  Please understand and please keep telling me your name.  Also, it would be really helpful if you would wear your name tags.  I feel smarter when people wear their name tags.  You don't have to be a member to have a name tag.  They are easily obtained by marking the spot on the bulletin stub.

Sometimes I know a person's name and I know I know it, but I just can't find it in my head.  Please be patient with me and keep teaching me.  I will one day soon look you in the eye and call you by name.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


This is one of the reasons why Richard Rohr is one of my favorite authors.  He writes a great deal about prayer and our relationship to God.  In his  book Simplicity, he states, "If you are filled with yourself, there is no room for another, and certainly not God."

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Jamie Coots

Coming soon to Woods Chapel
Jamie Coots was a pastor in Kentucky.  A snake handling preacher.  Yikes.  I say he was a pastor, because he died this week of a snake bite.

Snake handlers base the practice off of one verse in Mark 16.  The verse is in an alternate ending of the book of Mark that is not included in the earliest copies of the Bible.

At any rate, Jamie Coots is dead.  I have a few thoughts on this.  How sad.  How very sad.  We should not tempt God.  Don't try to prove your faith by walking a tight wire.  Don't test God.  Wear your seatbelt when you drive.  Just be normal for heavens sake.  Spirituality is proven by relevance, not by special signs and wonders.

You loving me and me loving you is all the sign that God needs.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hailey Owens

Our hearts go out in grief to the family of ten year old Hailey Owens of Springfield, MO. 

As for the man who harmed her- well, I have many thoughts and feelings.  Sometimes we have to leave a thing in God's hands.  Some things are just beyond our comprehension and our anger has no place to go.

I take comfort in the fact that Jesus was also upset with anyone who would hurt a child.  He indicated that it would be better for them if a millstone was tied to their neck and they be tossed into the sea.

God's heart breaks when our hearts break.  He stands with us in our grief.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

another quote

There are a few things that are taped to my computer screen.  I look at them every day.  There are a couple of prayers that are very personal.  There is the phone number to a counselor that I refer a lot of people to.  There is my wife's direct dial phone number to her desk.  {I know her cell phone, but for some reason I can't remember her hard line number.} There is a note from my daughter- see the attached picture.

And there is this quote. 
"Excellence is the gradual result of constantly striving to do better."  Pat Riley. 
It is a pretty good explanation of how I go about trying to do what I do.  You just get up every day and do your best.  You keep after a thing.  You try to fix the things that are broken.  And guess what, little by little, the ship is turned and we get headed in the right direction.

Excellence is the gradual result of constantly striving to do better.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

from a dentist friend

While I am on the subject of dentists, what is the best time to go to the dentist?  2:30.

What is a dentist's favorite psalm?  Psalm 81:10 "Open wide thy mouth, and I will fill it."

by the way if you missed the first line, 2:30 translates into "tooth hurty."

So here is what I got from my dentist friend..........a quote about how he has chosen to live his life:

  "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, February 17, 2014

thank you

So we hosted a funeral meal at the church on Saturday.  You never get much warning for these things because funerals are usually not planned in advance.  So someone puts out the word for help, and wonderful ladies come to help.  I walk in the door after the funeral and the meal is all ready to go.  These gals gave their Saturday afternoon to help a grieving family.  I am not surprised, but I am very grateful.

Thank you to all of you who do some much to help people in their moment of need.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Olympics

Well it is very exciting to watch the Olympics on TV.  Team USA beat the Russians in hockey.  Very exciting. 

I also enjoy watching curling.  Have you watched curling?  I am not sure why I like it.  It is kind of funny.  I have a feeling that I could be on the curling team.  I love to hear them yelling.  They take it all so seriously.

Maybe that is it.  So much excitement for a game that looks pretty simple.  Like us fighting over a game of darts or shuffleboard.  We humans get excited about all kind of things that really don't matter.

The things that you and I get excited about.  Are they really that important? 

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

in my next life

In my next life, I am going to have Saturdays off.  I won't have to make sure a sermon is ready or do anything for Sunday.  I will just hang out, mow the grass, grill out and go listen to some music downtown.  Then I will go to bed and sleep in.  I will wake up late and go to the late service.  I might even sing in the choir, who knows?   All of that is in my next life.

But today is here and it is not the next life.  It is this life.  So today there is a funeral.  Then there is sermon finishing.  Then there is relaxing.  Then tomorrow is Sunday.  When you are the preacher, it feels like Sunday comes 3x per week.

Ahh, I should stop whining.   I really don't have much to complain about.  You are a great bunch and I like being your pastor. 

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, February 14, 2014

taking responsibility

It is an interesting balance.  When to know to take responsibility for a thing, and when to understand that you have done everything that you can, and it is time to let a thing go.  There is nothing else that you can do.

I tell our staff to take responsibility and give credit.  Give credit to others, even if you were involved in a good thing.  And take responsibility for a problem, even if you were not at the center.  Avoid throwing others under the bus.  Give them a chance to succeed, every chance that you get.

So the thing that happened in your life, it may not be your responsibility.  If it is, than take it and work on it and try to make it right.  But be honest with yourself.  If it was not your responsibility, then release yourself from the burden and the guilt. 

Doing the right thing is an every day challenge for those who care about life.  Sometimes it means admitting to myself that I need to do better.  Sometimes it means not taking on things that really belong to someone else.  Knowing the difference between the two is a very interesting tightrope walk of life.  May God bless you and give you strength in your choosing of how to handle a thing.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

where ever I go

A friend used to sing in church, "where ever I go I see him...."   Sometimes that song is stuck in my head.  And I love the message.  Where ever I go, God is already there.  If I go to dark communist China, God is already there.  If I go to Cuba, God is already there.  In fact there are many Catholics in Cuba.  If I go to the jungles of Africa where no one speaks English, God is already there, and has been since the beginning of time.

Sure we should always be ready and willing to tell the story, but we will never go anywhere and take God there for the first time.  God is already everywhere that we go.

Take God into that employer that seems to difficult, onto the traffic on 291, into the DMV office?  God is already there.  When we recognize his presence, it feels good to celebrate who He is and what He is doing, instead of thinking that I am the only broker of God in the world.

God is doing more than I could ask or think.  He is at work in the world, everywhere, well before I was even aware of it.  Where is God working that you might not be aware of?  How does it affect your view of the people in a place when we understand that God is already there, and already at work?

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

2nd mile

To go the second mile is to do something for someone that you are not required to do.  It is to help someone when you are not obligated to do so.  Probably all of us have gone the second mile for another.

But, have you ever gone the second mile, and then complained about it?  Have you been a bit annoyed that you had to help that person?  I just have to say it, I don't think it counts as obeying Jesus when we go the second mile but have a bad attitude about doing so.

Somewhere part of the goodness of the event isn't just the going of the mile, but the attitude with which I go the second mile.  The gift isn't just the favor done, but the heart that is shown along the way.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, and when we have the opportunity to go the second mile, Lord may we do it with grace.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

life's problems

Life's problems.  We all have them.  We wish they would go away.  We wish them on someone else, but they come to us.  Sometimes they surprise us, but they shouldn't.

A flat tire.  A late plane.  Our team lost.  My computer is acting up.  On and on they go.

Somewhere along the journey of life, we all must stand up and face our problems.  We must realize that our parents can no longer save us.  We must come to the point where we know that our life is marked by our own ability, with the help of God, to achieve.

Sometimes we just have to stand up and be counted.  Those are difficult moments, but when we do, we are always glad that we did.  One of the greatest joys in life is to stand up in difficult times and do the right thing.

It is a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, February 10, 2014

snow snow go away

2014 Markham Spring Home ShowSnow snow go away, come again some other day.  Some other month.  Some other year.  I am sick of winter.  The older I get the more I get tired of cold weather.

There is this thing called S.A.D.  Seasonal Affective Disorder.  It is where people get sad during long winters.  I am ready for it to be over.  I hear it is going to be 50 degrees later this week. 

I post this picture of a warmer day in hopes that it all comes to us very soon.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

a good word

There is this saying in my brain.  My brain thinks it is a scripture, but I think it is really a compilation of a few scriptures that I have confused and put together by mistake.  None the less, it is a good saying and I have always liked it.  Here it is:

A good word at the right time is like health to the navel and marrow to the bones.

Who might be waiting for a good word from you?  Who might you bless with your words tomorrow?  Someone is there waiting, and you have the power to touch them.  To heal them.  Give the good word at the right time.  You will be glad that you did.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

finding your soul

In the movie City Slickers Billy Chrystal's wife tells him to go on the cattle drive trip and to find his smile.  He had lost it.  Lost his smile, lost the joy of life.

Sometimes we have to go find our smile.  We have to go find our soul.  Life gets busy.  Really busy and we catch ourselves coming and going at such a hectic pace that it is no longer fun.

Well, friends, that is not living.  it is not what God intended.  When we get to feeling lost in life, we need to take time to find our souls.  Slow down, find the quiet, sit and rest.  In Psalm 51 the writer prays, "restore unto me the joy of thy salvation."

Find your soul, its still there.  If you have lost the joy, I am praying for you in this moment that God will touch you and help you feel his love.  He is here, with you.  Let him again breathe his love into your heart. 

It is a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, February 7, 2014

a good soul

I had dinner the other night with a good soul.  Chicken wings, spinach dip and sliders.  [I think that is three of the four food groups.] 

What is a good soul?  A good soul is one of those exceptional people that you meet in life.  They get it.  They just get it.  They are often raised by Germans or Mennonites.  They are often from the Midwest or Iowa or Minnesota or South Dakota.  An eight inch snow is nothing to them.

They love their kids.  They would take a bullet for one of their kids.  They would take a bullet for you.  They love their wives.  They are 100% in the game.  They are determined, they are wise, they are gracious, they are kind.  They are just good souls.

I hope you know people like this.  There are many at Woods Chapel.  To have a friend that is a good soul is such a blessing.  Life is better when we share it with great folks.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


I was talking to someone who was angry the other day.  We realized something:  they thought that they were angry about some thing, but they were really angry or should have been angry at them selves.

I got a flat tire and I am angry.  I have not taken care of my car so I got a flat tire.  Who am I angry at?  I did not get the promotion and I am angry.  I am routinely late for work.  Who should I be angry at? 

This story has many chapters in it.  Things that we are angry about that we have also played a part in the creation of the anger story.

What I have found is that when I look and see my responsibility for the difficulty in a situation, I tend to be less mad.  When I take responsibility for what I have done, then I see that it is silly for me to be mad because I played a role in making it happen.

I was late for work not because of traffic but because I did not leave early enough.

I don't now if that helps anyone, but every time I take responsibility for my choices, I feel better about life.  And less anger is always a good thing.  You can even laugh at your own silly choices when you are brave enough to see them for what they are.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


We closed the office at noon yesterday and sent the staff home.  When I went outside, there was a young couple, members of our church that were cleaning off cars in the parking lot.  They are teachers, so they were off work since school was closed.  They had buckled their kids in the car seats and come up to the church to clean off cars.  They were going from car to car with a broom and scrapers.

I was so proud.  But at the same time, I was not surprised.  They were doing what so many of you do every day.  Finding ways to share God's love.  Their kindness made a cold snowy day a little warmer.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


When things are good we don't recognize hope.  It is a silent friend that walks with us when all is well.  We rarely thank it for being around until things go to pot.  It waits in the shadows for our moment of need.

Then when things go wrong and we are looking up from down in the depths, we pray for hope.  For a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel.  We yearn for an answer.  We hope for a better day.

Then hope appears.  It was there all the time and we just were not aware.  It appears- It is the offer of counsel from a friend.  It is a lift when your car is broken.  It is good news on a bad bill.  It is a smile, a warm word, a vote of confidence from one's boss.  It is a good report, a kid with a job.  It is a hug, a direction, a renewed sense of meaning and purpose.

If you are down today, hope in God.  What ever you are experiencing is not the end.  This is just a valley, and you are not alone in it.  Hope in God.  Be strengthened and encouraged.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, February 3, 2014


How many varieties of vegetables are available for sale at your local grocery store?  We don't know - and we take this blessing for granted!  A vegetable in Los Pinos is not just a blessing, it is a miracle.

I remember a story of a few years ago about a visitor from Russia who went with American friends to the grocery store.  He told them that he thought it was all staged.  That the Americans put on this show.  That there was no way that so much food, and so much produce was available all the time.  It had to be a show put on for him.

And so this week we will go to the grocery store. We will walk by the produce isle.  It really is amazing.  Lets give thanks for this often overlooked blessing.  And lets share the blessing of food with every one that we can, every time that we can.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


James 1 - Count it all joy, my brothers and my sisters, when you fall into trials of many kinds.  Trials such as these teach perseverance.  Let perseverance finish her work so that you might be mature and complete.  [Jeff Brinkman version]

So, it seems that if I am going to become mature and complete, I am going to have to learn to embrace my trials as part of life instead of fighting them.  I am going to have to understand them as something that God may use to help me grow instead of praying constantly for them to go away.

As long as we are fighting a thing, it is a great enemy.  As soon as we stop and make friends with it, the enmity goes away.  Some things we should fight.  Other things, are just going to be the way they are and we need to accept them and let them teach us and grow us into maturity.  So that in life, we are trusting Christ in all things.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good, even in the trials, for even there, God is working.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

lucky Dad

I am a lucky Dad.  My kids love their mom.  My kids love their Dad.  My kids love each other.  Jenny's 25th birthday party is tonight.  They are all so excited.  Alli is coming in from Chicago for it.

When I was growing up, we kids never hung out with mom or dad.  When I was growing up, the kids didn't hang out with each other. 

I am so fortunate that my kids love each other and their parents.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.